Let's Go Fishing Report

Skipper Greg Wise on the Miss Beth hoists a prized Bluefin Tuna caught on Monday.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Greg Wise

by Allen Bushnell

Sadly, the salmon bite in Monterey Bay was noticeably slower this week. Fish were getting harder to find last Friday so a private boater headed out to deeper water hoping to find bait, salmon or both. What they found was actually much, much better. Noticing birds working bait at the surface, they motored closer and discovered a frothing frenzy of feeding bluefin tuna! The boaters did manage to hook one up using a Krokodile lure, but the fish came unbuttoned before being boated.
As one might imagine, word of bluefin in the bay spread like wildfire throughout Northern California. Anglers have been trailering boats in all week for a rare chance at one of the most prized gamefish in the world. And, they are here. In our backyard! The tuna are proving hard to catch though. Most anglers pursuing them are lucky to get a glimpse of surface action. Hookups were reported by anglers using downriggers to troll deep, around 200 feet down. The best spots seem to be the 300-foot flats near deep canyon edges. Ground zero was the west side of the Soquel Hole. Bluefin have also been reported straight out of Santa Cruz, and also to the north of town.
After the initial excitement on Friday, and a couple days of mostly unsuccessful tuna fishing by others, Captain John Thomas from Go Fish Santa Cruz sent out his boat the beautiful Miss Beth on a scouting trip. He enlisted longtime tuna chaser Todd Fraser from Bayside Marine to set the spread, while second captain Greg Wise piloted the boat. Fraser solved the puzzle by running tuna jigs and cedar plugs far behind the boat to fool the fish. His plan worked.
Here’s what Fraser had to say, “The bluefin are still being seen around the Soquel Hole and near Monterey. There have been a few more yellowtail caught in the edges of the canyon. I fished on Go Fish Charters with Captain Greg for bluefin today. We hooked two nice bluefin but one came off. The bluefin are biting on cedar plugs way back so make sure you have lots of line and a big reel. We saw fish all over the bay as we tacked downhill. There were jumpers at 36'47/121'58. There is a bunch of warm water out there so if you want bluefin get out and troll cedar plugs out on the edges of the Canyon.”
Meanwhile, inshore fishing is strong and getting stronger. Anglers are keeping easy limits of rockfish from the deeper reefs around the bay. Halibut are moving in, even some big ones. Ed Burrell from Capitola Boat and Bait caught three keepers on Tuesday, with the largest around 20 pounds. Mark Davis from Capitola hooked a 25-pound halibut somewhere near the Cement Ship on Wednesday. And, of course, surfcasting for striped bass and especially barred surf perch is going strong, best this week from the beaches stretching from Watsonville to Monterey.

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